Legend tells us that Hydra was a terrible monster that lived in the marshes of Lerna. The beast has numerous heads with the added horror that if a head was cut off, two would instantly grow back in its place. Hercules and his nephew Iolaus decided to hunt down Hydra and kill it. Hercules would cut off a head and Ioleus immediately burn the wound to prevent the heads from growing back. The central head of the monster was immortal, but Hercules overcame this obstacle by burying it under a rock. The Egyptians said this group of stars was the river Nile's starry counterpart.

For the Observer

The Stars of Spring

Alpha Hydra, Alphard (09h25m.1 -08°26') is a 1.9 magnitude class K3 star about 95 light years distant. The star is an optical double, with a 10th magnitude bluish companion.

Epsilon Hydra (08h44m.2 +06°36') has a magnitude of 3.4 and is a class G0 star about 140 light years. It is a multiple star system with a total of 4 components. The A and B stars are a binary with a period of 15.3 years. The companion has a magnitude of 4.8. The third star, C, has a magnitude of 7.8. It is a class F7 star and revolves around A and B. The fourth star is a dwarf K0 star and shows a proper motion with the others but no definite orbital motion has been detected.

M48 (NGC2548) (08h11m.2 -5°38') is a galactic cluster with a combined magnitude of 5.8 and a distance of 1500 light years.

M68 (NGC4590) (12h36m.8 -26°29') is a globular cluster , quite dim at magnitude 8 but worth looking at. It contains about 40 variable stars. It lies about 40,000 light years distant. It is rich toward the center of the cluster, appearing somewhat oval in smaller telescopes.

M83 (NGC5236) (13h34m.3 -29°37') is a barred spiral galaxy of magnitude 7. It is about 8 million light years distant.

Copyright © 1995 - 2003
Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator